In June I took a week out of the office to cycle the Coast to Coast. The route I planned to take was created by Tim Woodcock which starts on the West coast of England at St Bees and finishes in Robin Hoods bay on the East. The route is almost entirely off-road and cuts right through the glorious North of England, including the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors national parks. The plan was to spend the week covering the 210 miles and carrying all my own gear.
My first day was to be an easy one; leaving St Bees at 4.30pm, I rode along the side of Ennerdale water, past the Black Sail YHA, over Black Sail Pass and into Wasdale for an 8:30pm arrival at Wasdale Head. This was the first time I had experienced Ennerdale, and I was pretty blown away with the how amazing the valley is. The Youth Hostel at the head of the valley is only accessible on foot or by bike and makes a perfect base for climbing on Pillar.
Monday was a pretty tough day’s riding, starting in Wasdale and finishing in Kentmere, taking in three big climbs. I was pretty tired when I arrived in Coniston so after a good feed I opted to miss out two small sections of the route and ride from Coniston to Ambleside and Troutbeck to Kentmere via road.
I left the Maggs Howe bunk barn in Kentmere on Tuesday morning at around 8am. I was hoping to get to the Tan Hill Inn for mid-afternoon. The riding after Kentmere eased off a bit as the terrain changes from rocky climbs and descents to long slogs over boggy moorland. Arriving at the Tan Hill inn was a nice milestone, the sighting of the ‘Yorkshire Dales National Park’ sign providing a nice little boost to morale.
On Wednesday I rode from Tan Hill down into Keld, through the Swaledale Valley, to Richmond and finally onto Osmotherly. I’d made the decision to crack on to Osmotherly from Richmond as there was a nice 25km or so of road riding, meaning that I could hopefully finish a day earlier than anticipated!
I was extremely lucky with the weather, having wall-to-wall sunshine every day, much to the envy of everyone back in the office. I paid the price for this on Thursday, where I was struck with the worst sunburn I’d had for years. To finish off Thursday I rode from Osmotherly through the North Yorkshire Moors and onto Robin Hoods Bay. This part of the ride was brilliant – very fast riding over moorland double track and excellent views of the moors and East coast.
All credit must go to Tim Woodcock for creating this route; it packs in some really amazing riding through some incredible terrain.
As this was the first self supported ride I have done, I wanted to make it as comfortable as possible both on an evening and whilst riding. This meant carrying normal camping gear such as tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and cooking gear. All my gear was to be on the bike so I tried to pack as light as possible.
The kit list
Bike & bike bags
Tent – 1 Man bivvy Tent
Sleeping Bag – Mountain Equipment Xero 200
Sleeping Mat – Thermarest Prolite
Pillow – Exped Air Pillow UL
Waterproof Jacket – Montane Minimus jacket
Waterproof Pants – Montane Minius pants
Warm Jacket – Rab VR Lite jacket
Windshirt – Montane Singletrack jacket
Riding clothes – Shorts, Bib, jersey, etc.
Buff x 2
Base Layer – Arcteryx Phase SL LS Crew
- Arcteryx Phase AR Bottom
Spare Shorts – Marmot
Socks – Smartwool pHd outdoor light crew
Stove -MSR Pocket Rocket
Cook Pot – MSR Titan Kettle
2 x Small Gas canisters
On top of my main kit I also carried a small First Aid kit,small wash kit and bike repair kit (spare tube, multi tool, Leatherman CS2 etc) and food. Food wise I took two Expedition Foods main meals, 3 bags of fruit and nut trail mix, 5 energy bars and 5 x gels, and picked more food up en-route.